Helping the oldest lumberyard in California expand to nine locations

Jul 16, 2012

For 128 years, Ganahl Lumber has been supplying lumber, plywood, hardware and other building materials to construction projects throughout California. And much of their expansion—they currently have nine retail stores and a distribution center— has been financed with the help and advice from their team at Bank of America.

The oldest lumberyard in California, Ganahl started in 1884 when Christian Ganahl and his brother Frank hopped on a train and came to Los Angeles from St. Louis. At the time, L.A. had a fast-growing population of 22,000 and building was flourishing. The brothers saw a growth opportunity and purchased a lumberyard, following a few years later with a second location. They continued to open branches—the company thriving even during the Depression—and added new products including millwork, cabinets and hardware. Today, their nine locations provide one-stop shopping for developers, contractors and do-it-yourselfers.

Ganahl Lumber has been a family-run business for four generations. And for the last 90 of those years, Bank of America has served as their primary bank, providing the credit to acquire more lumberyards, open stores, and build a cutting-edge distribution center. Says Peter Ganahl, the current President, who took over the helm at 27 when his father died suddenly, “I never worried about continuing to get financing. Our banker looked at my brother John and said, 'we’re going to take care of you.'”

Today, “Ganahl Lumber” is stenciled on the beams of houses and buildings all over L.A. and Orange County. The company has been an active employer for over 100 years, and started offering partial ownership of the company to its employees in 1976. Employees, many of them with the company for decades, own just over a third of the company. And the Ganahls, continuing with the original “branch theory,” have grown the business, helping shape the California landscape and support the local economy.

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